Scholarly Advice for Academic Mastery
A collection of insights and advice from some of the most successful university, graduate, and professional students and scholars.
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My best piece of advice: look toward the future. Out of high school, I went to a community college, and got tired of the question: "Why would you go to community college?; you're smart!" The community college I was accepted to had a program that I applied to, that gave me two years of scholarship, and a summer abroad program (fully paid for) at Cambridge University, in England. Once people heard of this, they often rescinded their question; after all, who could refuse two years of school free, complemented with a trip abroad? What I learned from this lesson was to look toward the end goal. My goal was never to stop at a two-year school, and most of my colleagues at my school felt the same. I looked toward my end goal: to become a wedding/party planner for the stars. Now, I have transferred to an Ivy League school, at Cornell University, and have found a great fit for both my social and professional goals. I feel that my community college sent me on my way, and believe the best scholarly advice I can give is to look toward the end goal, and to plan well and never give up on what you want to do!
I, Brooke Jennings, graduated with a 4.0 GPA at Radford University. I earned my Bachelor of Social Work Degree and learned how to overcome many challenges. I am the first in my family to attend college and my goal is to encourage all adolescents/adults to further their education. I would like to say that my 4.0 GPA was not easy to accomplish. I went to college at the age of 31 and I suffer with short-term memory. I am a foster-mother of four girls, birth mother of two boys and one girl, a full time wife, I work full-time as a youth counselor, and I am full time college student. Now you ask! How do you do it?
My secret to success is time management and setting goals. As a busy person, I have to make sure that I have enough time in the day to accomplish my employment, school, and to enjoy my family. To manage your time you must be able to understand how to set goals and determine how you spend your 24-hour days. You need to create an outline on how you complete a typical week. You need to understand your priorities and keep a calendar. In the calendar, you need to write down when you have class, when you are going to study, and do your homework. You need to put in your calendar when you plan to exercise/sports, go to work, spend time with family, time for personal care, meal preparation, relaxing time, socializing, doctor appointments, and whatever else comes your way. Oh, do not forget to add sleep. Now this may seem to be a bit much, but you will be surprise how much you can accomplish in a 24-hour day by managing your time.
I also learned that you cannot manage your time if you do not motivate yourself. You need to be able to take responsibility for your learning and recognize that “failure” is success. Praise and reward yourself when you succeed and when you reach your goals. Motivation is very important, so keep you head up high and do not let failure get into your way.
You will also need to avoid procrastination. I am the queen when it comes to procrastination, and I know the challenges it brings not to procrastinate. It is important to remind yourself of due dates way in advance and tell yourself once it is completed you will have time for yourself. You need to be clear on what your final objectives are and what the end result will be. What are your major steps to get there? What have you done so far? You must always remember that the longest journey begins with the first step.
You will need to learn how to create effective study habits. Everyone studies differently so you will need to find what works best for you. Find the most comfortable place to study and set a positive mood. Take responsibility for yourself and again manage your time. I try to center myself on my values and principles, and I put first things first.
It is important to pay attention in class. I have short-term memory so I am writing down almost everything the teachers are saying. Sometimes, I bring in a tape recorder. I always sit in the front row and I participate in class whenever possible. I let the professors know immediately that I have short-term memory and I will be taping them and may ask repetitive questions.
I learned that writing is very important, especially in the social work field. It is important to use proper grammar and always check spelling. Do not rely on the computer to fix your mistakes. Most colleges have someone in the library to proof read your papers, so take advantage of services within your college. Always proof read and revise all assignments before turning it in.
Understand your preferred learning style. A learning style is a way of learning, and your preferred learning style is the way you learn best. I am an auditory learner. I learn best when information is presented by sound, through lectures and class discussions. This is why taping class discussions help me learn. You need to know your learning styles. Are you a Visual Learner? Are you an Auditory Learner? Are you a Kinesthetic Learner? Remember, your learning style is your strength, so go with what works best for you.
I suffer with test anxiety and I still learned how to succeed. I have a hard time focusing on multiple-choice tests. When I take a test, I have a difficult time understanding the directions and questions. Sometimes I read the questions wrong or I just draw a blank. I find my mind wondering and I forget the answers. Therefore, you ask how I got the 4.0 GPA with test anxiety. I learned quickly how to create healthy study techniques. I tried to create a positive attitude and tried to stay relaxed during the test. I reminded myself it did not matter when the other students finishes their exam. When I fail an exam, I learn from my mistakes and I analyze the test to see how I could have done better. If I did very poor I would talk to the professor and ask if I can do extra credit. I explained to the professor that I have severe test anxiety and I want to prove another way that I know the materials. I learned that most professors will work with you if you are active in class, always turn in your materials, and you are never absent. Your attitude with school is important and you must learn how to advocate for yourself.
Brooke Alston Jennings
Master of Science in Social Work
On May 5, 1983
I was born as an only child into a single parent family. Over the course of
my lifetime, I have had to face many obstacles and hardships that got in the
way of my dreams, including having to move 11 times and struggling from a
learning disability. If it was not for my mother, I would not be where I am
Upon graduating from high school in June of 2002, I made the decision that I wanted to attend North Shore Community College located in Danvers, Massachusetts. This was one of the best choices that I could have made because I learned the necessary skills in how to succeed, and I received the support that I needed. I did not hesitate to go for tutoring if I needed it and such actions paid off because I finished my first semester successfully and was notified that I had made the dean's list. In 2005, I graduated from North Shore Community College with highest honors and transferred to Salem State College, located in Salem, Massachusetts, that fall. I majored in psychology and graduated with my baccalaureate degree in May of 2007. I graduated with Summa Cum Laude. A few months prior to graduation, I applied to graduate school at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. I knew there was a 50/50 chance of getting in and I prayed that the admissions committee would accept me. A few days after my interview, I received a letter in the mail stating that I had been accepted. I was ecstatic by such news.
Today I am enrolled full-time in my master's degree program and hope to have my degree by May of 2009. I currently have a GPA of 4.0. After graduation, I will have my master's in mental health counseling and then have to take the Massachusetts licensure exam in order to become a licensed mental health counselor in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. My goal is to become a college counselor and assist students reach their goals in life. I believe anyone can achieve their goals if they really want to. There were many times that the odds were against me, but perseverance and strength from God helped me to keep going.
One of the best tips that I can give those of you just starting college is to always think about your ultimate goal in life after obtaining a college degree. There may be hardships along the way, but as long as you persevere and hold true to what you want to achieve, you will reach your goals ultimately. Don’t give up! I never did and I never will.
Sean Michael Kenney
Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling
University of Massachusetts-Boston
God knows that
there are many obstacles and hindrances to thwart the success of anyone. So,
how do we become successful or succeed at any given task. Well, obviously
one must have a certain amount of discipline, competence, dedication and
intensity, but there is one particular attribute that all successful people
possess. The need or desire for completion or closure.
As a young man, I often pursued finality or closure in every area of my life. While I experienced great success in academics and athletics, a few areas still remained untamed. There are some things that we can control and then there are some things that we cannot. One of the most important things that we can control is the level of success we have in education.
Most people find it easy to begin a college education but find it difficult to finish. Those who find success in completing educational goals have one thing in common, closure. These types of people do not like loose ends and unfinished goals. That have a passion and drive to finish whatever they start. This mainly because there esteem is directly tied to their success at achieving preset goals. Once these goals have been achieved, they receive confidence, acceptance and esteem in those successes.
So, if you have begun your pursuit of educational success and have become weary in your pursuit, just remember that you must complete your goal, no matter how long it takes or how much it costs. Never give up, never quit because to quit is to not achieve and to not achieve is to not succeed.
Master of Science in Education
Nicholls State University
Recopy your notes as soon as you can after class. The repetition will make the information easier to recall when you have to study for an exam at a later date and when you look through it yourself, you will figure out points that may not have been so clear during lecture.
Michael Emil Wagner
would perhaps describe the motivational tool I have used to travel the
academic road to success. The more determination a person has for success
will inspire the most motivational skills to become successful. I came from
a family who did not know or recognize the greatest importance of
educational values needed for success. I am what you might call a late
bloomer. I wanted my children and my grandchildren to know the significance
an education can make in their lives. I started to college at the age of 42
years old, and I have not stopped. I intend to graduate with a Masters in
Guidance and Counseling this December 2008.
Being determined means to be ready to study and work toward the goal(s) set to see a fruitful end. Life has a way of teaching us the important steps to take and to give honor to whom honor is due. I do my best to walk a Christian life and to encourage those around me not to give up. Faith and determination go hand in hand. Secondly, I place the value of doing my part. My part is allowing time to study and to plan time for every facet within my life such as, church, family, work, school, and my self.
Finally, using the experiences of life as a stepping stone to keep me on a path to reach my goal (s). Life is the motivational tool I use the most. I believe we need to live life to its fullest.
Joyce Ann Wolfe
Master of Science in Counseling
Murray State University
|Maintain excellence||You need to have excellence in your attendance. Show up early for class. Turn in your excellent home work on time. I took notes at class and then typed them out at home. This helps to review your work too.|
|Attitude of gratitude||Keep a thankful, positive heart towards your professor and also your fellow students. Do not grumble or complain.|
|Goal setting||Set short term goals to achieve the best grades on the way to your final exam or final project.|
|Never give up||There will be obstacles that you will face but keep on persevering towards your goals.|
|Appearance||Dress well. Don't be sloppy in your outward appearance.|
|Team up||Join with other excellent students in class and help each other out in your studies too.|
|Inspiration||Let your faculties be stimulated to a high level of
activity or feelings.
|Pray||Yes, pray that the Lord will help to guide and to strengthen you in your academic pursuits|
|Servant||It helps to have a servant's heart. Be humble and willing to do extra things for the teacher or for other students. Give a greeting card, share a snack or give a cold glass of water to someone who needs it.|
Yes, you are right. This is an acrostic that just happens to spell: Magna Tips.
Ruth ann Pulaski
Master of Music
New Mexico Highlands University
I waited ten years to begin on my doctorate at MU and as I look back on my life, my advise to others is to avoid being scared to achieve what you want in your educational life. I was scared to death to take statistics and to write at a level of a doctoral student only to find out that I am capable of both. So as I said before, Don't be afraid of what you dream to achieve! GO FOR IT!!!
Cynthia Kaye Jorgenson
PhD, Educational Leadership
University of Missouri
Set Goals for Yourself.
a. This is good practice for the rest of your life.
b. You do not want to be an aimless wonderer who stays in college forever to “find themselves”. You will get tired of it as you mature and look forward to the next stage in your life.
c. This will help you accomplish more and opens your eyes to the many opportunities available to you.
d. This will also help you manage your time and succeed overall because you will have something important that you want and will enjoy working towards.
Samantha Lynn Farris
Frostburg State University
a. Financial plan: complete your FAFSA before or by the deadline to help you determine the cost of your education, your expected family contribution and repayment schedules of any loans you may need to apply for. Most likely your budget will require a long-term adjustment to allow the extra expenses for tuition, books, materials and other related cost. Check with your employer and research scholarship options to off-set your out-of-pocket expenses. Take as many classes as possible with your local community college and transfer them to your 4-year school of choice.
b. Degree plan: the sooner you can decide on a degree plan the sooner you will get a firm guideline which courses you need to take. If you have not completed your core requirements you should do so at your nearest community college for several reasons: the tuition is much lower; the classes are much smaller; you may not even need to borrow money to cover the cost. At the 4-yr school you should plan to enroll in more courses than just a full load because many schools will not charge tuition for courses above your full load. Also, the degree plan will help you maximize short semesters by planning ahead which courses are offered towards your degree during short and flex semesters. Also, be prepared that some courses are only offered during certain semesters so be sure to work out a long range plan. Your degree plan is your roadmap with the most accurate, most efficient and most economic route towards graduation. It will help you stay focused and deter you from dropping courses easily.
c. Study plan: budget your time as you would budget your money. Neither of these resources come easy – but they go very fast :-). Set time aside for studying and homework calculating your out-of-class preparation time at 2-3 times (weekly) the amount of credits a course gives you (Example: 3 credit hour course: 3 hours in class per week, 6-9 hours prep time per week). Build a firm schedule which shows your class schedule, study time, work, and other obligations. Be sure to leave time to relax and also for sleep. Be realistic where you may need to adjust your time commitments. It does not make sense to borrow money for a college education and then fail to follow through on your time commitment. If you are coming fresh out of high school you are still in study mode and should be comfortable with a school schedule. If you have been out of school for a while, ease into it. Start with one or few classes and slowly increase your load with each semester. This incremental approach will keep your adjustments on time, finances and other obligations at a manageable rate. Once you have reached the maximum course load you have reached the highway of your education road trip. You will be moving towards graduation at a much faster speed.
Applied Technology and Performance Improvement
University of North Texas
Know your goals for each course you're taking and prioritize accordingly. For almost every class, you can do pretty well (B+ or even A-) just by showing up to every lecture and paying attention. Professors focus their tests on what was said during class. The readings may be helpful - and may make the difference between doing well and acing a class - but in general, nearly everything on a test will be from lecture.
I believe the most phenomenal leaders lead by modeling the value of continuous learning. Becoming an effective leader, to me, is a process which evolves over time. Throughout my career in education so many individuals have empowered me to become a leader through their influence. It is my personal goal and passion to have a positive impact on students and teachers; to encourage them to set goals and to never back down from attaining those goals.
Jennifer Busby Ridgway
Masters in Educational Leadership
Kennesaw State University
Regardless of one's academic skills, perseverance and commitment are the most essential tools anyone can have for academic achievement. Placing one's responsibilities in perspective helps to remain committed to achieving academic mastery. Setting goals for completing homework and studying helps to prevent feelings of being overwhelmed and incapable. For example, set a goal to complete the assignments for one or two classes each day rather than tackling each class at once. Ask for help from other classmates, such as brainstorming, editing, and study groups. A different perspective can help to solidify or clarify information. Professors are a valuable resources as most are typically willing to help clarify and even engage in discussions of class assignments when approached.
|Jennifer Lea' Jones
Master of Science in Social Work
Oklahoma City University
I found that by setting one ultimate goal for college, success can be achieved. My goal, to become a speech pathologist, is well on its way. Several students enter college unsure of what they would like to accomplish and which career path to choose. I decided right after high school to become a speech pathologist. Therefore, I found out early the GPA I needed to obtain in order to get into a graduate program--which is required for speech pathology in order to become a clinician. By deciding what I wanted to do before I got into college, I made it a lot easier on myself. I saved time and money because I knew exactly which classes to take. Also, I didn't let my GPA slip because I knew the consequences that could be in store for me. If possible, try your best to decide what career path suits you best. In the end it will put you further ahead, yet, exactly where you need to be.
University of Tennessee
Goals are very important when starting college. Make sure you have a plan and are always revising it. It is very important that you keep your mind about you and what your plan is. Write your goals down, make plans for your future in college (and after.) Think about all four years, not just your first semester. This will enable you to check prerequisites off your list, keep on track and be able to graduate when you want to. I would suggest a meeting with your counselor at least every semester for the first two years. Make sure that you have a plan. In terms of your long term goals make sure to examine them constantly. Join a "pre" club. Make friends that are interested in similar careers. Shadow someone in your profession or try to get a job inside the profession you are looking at. All of these things will not only allow you to stay focused but also allow you to explore what you think you may want to do. It will also look great on a resume and give you topics to talk about in applications and interviews. Make sure that what your goal is what you really want. You can never prepare enough, make sure to plan and make goals!
University of Michigan
Where do you want to be in a year? In five years? In ten years? Setting clear goals for your future will motivate you and keep you on track. In his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (1989), Stephen Covey calls this "beginning with the end in mind." In other words, if you don't know where you are going, you can't get there. The more specific you are with your goals, the more likely you will be to meet them. Don't just say, "I want to make good grades and graduate next year." Say, "I want to make a 3.5 GPA. Upon graduation, I plan to work for a ______company." Then set short term goals of how you will reach that. How often will you study? What will else will you to do ensure that GPA? If you want to work for a certain company, begin now doing your homework. Look them up online. Study their policies and their needs. Work towards that goal by becoming the person who will meet those needs. Then do what it takes to get the job. Try to get an internship, or schedule an interview. You can do whatever you make up your mind to do!
Master of Arts in Educational Leadership
Texas A&M University
Short Term Goal Setting:
Don't put it off! If you have an assignment, get started on it right away. If at all possible, at least brainstorm some ideas the same day the assignment is given. This will get your creative juices flowing, and you will feel a sense of accomplishment just by getting a small step started.
If you have a paper to write or a presentation to create, the first step might just be to decide on a topic if one has not been assigned to you.
Decide how long you have until the assignment is due. Decide how much time you will be able to devote to this one assignment each day. Then divide the assignment into segments you wish to accomplish each day that will get you to your finished product BEFORE the due date.
Once you have made a plan, stick to it! If you finish early, then you can do other things on your list.
Once you have finished the assignment and are satisfied you did your best, put it away until it is due. If you continue to review it, you will continue to revise it even if you are satisfied with it.
Make a priority list. If you have several assignments due around the same time, prioritize. You can begin by tackling the most difficult first or begin with the ones that you are more confident with. If you begin with the most difficult first, remember to allow enough time for the other assignments as well. Don't let one assignment monopolize all your time and thoughts. I often found it difficult to work on multiple assignments at the same time while switching back and forth between them. I felt as if I wasn't getting anything accomplished. It is always a good feeling to check something off your list. If you have too many things going at once, nothing seems to get checked off the list. My key was always, if circumstances allowed, to complete one assignment before moving on to another. That way you can devote all your thought processes to one assignment at a time. (This is not always possible)
If you do have multiple assignments due around the same time, you will need to figure this into your time. When deciding how much time you can devote to these assignments, the time will have to be allotted to cover ALL the assignments.
Most importantly, make a plan and stick to it. If you manage your time well, you will be successful.
Masters, Instructional Leadership
Tennessee Technological University
Academic success is a frame of mind. It is a belief in one’s person
abilities. This belief overlooks the odds and the obstacles that stand in
one’s way. I was born and raised in a poor African home. My mother struggled
to not only pay my school fees but also provide for my needs. To succeed, I
had to overlook the obstacles in my path and look deep inside myself and
say, I can make it. Success is totally dependent on my abilities and not the
circumstances around me. I decide to look at my abilities and ignore the
difficulties that would make formidable stumbling blocks in my path.
Success does not come without toil. It is characterized by hardship and falling every now and then. Rising after falling is the difference between success and failure. A man bound for success always defies the odds and stands up after falling. He smiles instead of crying when he gets a poor grade. He looks at his own abilities and defies the poor grade with a decent performance on his next test. I have always learnt from what I get wrong and not what I get right. I am very obsessed by looking at what I get wrong than admiring my good works on what I get right. “Failure is part of a learning curve that culminates in perfection”.
I am not the best of soccer players but I can do something with the ball. My experience with soccer has in so many ways shaped my view of academic success. A soccer side is an eleven man strong team that stands to defeat the opponent. All the players: the goalkeeper, the defenders, midfielders and strikers will always do all in their power to win a game. Victory is as much a team effort as it is in the academic arena. I have always ran to my friends for assistance when ever I feel like I can not do it alone and I too have been of assistance to them on many occasions. We can all learn from each other and we do need each other. In soccer, there is a coach who dictates the mode of play by creating the tactics. In academics, the professor takes that position. For a player to keep his place on the first team, he has to do all in his power to listen to the coach and do it the coach’s way. I have always looked up to my professors for inspiration. I regularly attend office hours and ask questions whenever I am not sure. I have made friends with all my professors and I just never feel afraid to go to their office to ask them what I need to do to improve.
Academic success is a cluster of hard decisions. It is a choice between staying up late to talk to friends or going to bed early so as to be early for my 8 AM class. It is a choice between attending a party and completing my lab report on time. It is a choice between playing soccer on a daily basis and keeping up with my biology notes. I never get complacent when I get an A because I believe an A+ is better and neither do I feel happy with a 90 because a 95 would make me happier.
Chemistry and Chemical Biology